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Upgrade the CPU GPU or both?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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February 3, 2011 11:47:21 AM

Hi, I've been out of touch with the latest PC technology for more than a few years. I built my system a while back and have been very happy with it since than. I've been able to play all the games I've wanted at decent resolutions and have had no technical problems beyond the typical. Now I got Starcraft II and am suffering to play it at low settings and figure that this is just as good a time as any for an upgrade.

The system is
AMD X2 4200 (socket AM2)
Gigabyte S5 Motherboard
Nvidia Geforce 7900 GTS (i know it's old)
2GB of RAM, DDR2

My question is If I can only afford to upgrade one part, the CPU or the GPU which one would give me the most benefits in game performance. My automatic assumption is that the GPU would provide the most benefit but the wisdom that I have usually gone with is that a PC will only perform well as well as it's oldest/weakest component.

I was looking at upgrading to something like an Nvidia 450gts and was wondering if that would be an effective upgrade. It is annoying to upgrade the cpu as gigabyte has all but abandoned the S5 and therefore I am stuck with AM2 Cpus not AM2+ or AM3.

What do you think? Will the 450 give me a performance upgrade? Or will it be a futile attempt at bringing an aging system up to speed.

More about : upgrade cpu gpu

a b U Graphics card
February 3, 2011 11:55:51 AM

Just need a few more bits of info if that's alright:

PSU wattage and 12v rating

Monitor resolution



It is looking pretty old, i would say anything above a 5770 will be bottlenecked by your CPU.

Might i also suggest adding another 2 GB of memory to your system, most modern games will chew all 2GB of that right up.

You can up the CPU if you want, but that architecture is so old it wouldn't make a massive amount of difference. Could you try upgrading to an AM3 platform, get a cheap tri-core Athlon II with some cheap DDR3 memory to go with it? I may be getting ahead of myself here, but a GPU upgrade with this system will only do so much.


Personally, i would look at a new system, or at least a newer platform. AM3 based stuff can come very cheap and will be a much more capable platform to game from. My suggestions:

AM3 motherboard platform with either tri-core or quad-core Athlon II, overclocked if you want

4GB RAM

New PSU if your old one is no-brand and getting old



Then you will be able to make better use of, say, a 5770 or GTX 460/450.
February 8, 2011 12:46:08 PM

I have a 600 watt PSU

My monitor is 720p.

Anyway I was looking to squeeze the last bit of performance possible out of this aging system for like 100$ if possible.

I'm not really on a budget right now to upgrade. I think the Max I could get away with is a new Mobo, and new CPU for something like 125$ altogether and then a new GPU for like 120$ Can I use DDR2 memory with a new generation motherboard?

a c 130 U Graphics card
February 8, 2011 1:07:48 PM

Themoniter61 said:
I have a 600 watt PSU

My monitor is 720p.

Anyway I was looking to squeeze the last bit of performance possible out of this aging system for like 100$ if possible.

I'm not really on a budget right now to upgrade. I think the Max I could get away with is a new Mobo, and new CPU for something like 125$ altogether and then a new GPU for like 120$ Can I use DDR2 memory with a new generation motherboard?


You could use the DDR2 in a AM2+ Motherboard.
You could upgrade a AM2+ board at your own pace really. It will take your old AM2 CPU for now if you wish then it will take a new AM3 chip down the line a bit.
I decided to use an AM2+ board last year as it made no sense not reusing the DDR2 and paying out for new Ram.
It looks like the answer to me.

Mactronix :) 
!